The average American doesn’t have the bandwidth for devilish details about public policy. Politicians know if they “control the narrative”—make an issue as simple as humanly possible—they can manipulate public opinion. Millionaires and billionaires = oppressors. Iraq = not our problem anymore. The public can handle the truth; they just don’t have time for it. They’ve got money to make, kids to raise, bills to pay, football to watch, spouses to deceive, etc. And that’s why, more than a year after ATF-enabled drug thugs gunned down Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the ATF Fast and Furious Scandal is still flying below the radar. It’s too damn complicated. But there’s a chance F&F might “pop,” now that Congressional investigators have uncovered a smoking gun . . .
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will face the music in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Ahead of that confrontation, the Department of Justice did a Friday night document dump. As you can guess from the timing of the information release (into the weekend news cycle void), the material was full of DOJ not-good. dailycaller.com:
An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”
That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”
Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.
Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”
Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.
“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.”
In sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2011, Eric Holder claimed he’d only learned of Fast and Furious a “few weeks” before his appearance. Holder later backpedalled, redefining a “few weeks” as a “couple of months.” The newly released email indicates that Holder knew about Fast and Furious with 24 hours of Terry’s death.
No wonder Wilkinson told the Oversight Committee that he was exercising his Fifth Amendment right not to “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” (i.e. incriminate himself) when asked what his boss knew and when he knew it. Same deal for the DOJ. Yesterday, the Justice Department refused to answer press questions about Holder’s knowledge of Fast and Furious.
When he appears before Issa’s investigation, Holder could try and throw his Deputy Chief of Staff under the bus (“He told me no such thing”) or blame faulty memory (“I don’t recall that conversation”). But there’s plenty of evidence that officials at the highest level of the Department of Justice were well aware of Fast and Furious, wherein the Bureau arranged for Mexican gun smugglers to purchase thousands of firearms from U.S. gun stores.
Why wouldn’t they be? Ah, well, also ahead of the Thursday showdown, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have released a report on the ATF’s “botched sting”: “Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona.” [Click here to read the report.] In short, Bush did it too. More to the point, it’s all about Arizona. In their official version of events (based on the incomplete, withheld and dubious evidence provided by the DOJ) . . .
It is clear that ATF agents in Phoenix and prosecutors in the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office embarked on a deliberate strategy not to arrest suspected straw purchasers while they attempted to make larger cases against higher-level targets.
The man in question (i.e. the sacrificial lamb): Former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, the only Obama administration official who’s resigned due to Fast and Furious fallout. Although Burke was clearly a driving force behind both Operation Fast and Furious and the coverup after Agent Terry’s murder, the bombastic bureaucrat may not go quietly into that long good night. In fact, Burke could switch sides and blow the lid off this entire scandal.
If so, he better get on with it. What with the smoking gun email implicating Holder and the looming confrontation with Issa, Burke’s potential finger-pointing is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Make no mistake: the Democrats whitewash won’t wash. To wit: Acting Attorney General Gary Grindler’s claim he was out of the F&F loop. According to the report, Holder’s number two told congressional investigators in December 2011 that he was “extraordinarily confident” the ATF officials briefing him in March 2010 didn’t say anything about letting U.S. gun store guns walk into Mexico.
That is just an absurd concept. If that had been told to me, I would not only have written something, but done something about it. … I would have stopped it.
As foxnews.com points out, “Previously-released notes from the briefing show Grindler jotted down the name ‘Operation Fast and Furious.’ In addition, he was told that at least two suspects used cash to buy nearly 450 weapons costing tens of thousands of dollars, and he noted many guns bought in the United States were surfacing in Mexico.”
I don’t want to get lost in the weeds here. Suffice it to say, TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have the bandwidth to see both the broader point (the DOJ are a bunch of lying scumbags who feel free to operate outside the confines of the U.S. Constitution) and the even broader point (the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was part of an extra-legal government-wide conspiracy to f around with Mexican politics).
The second part of that equation of illegality will be lost on the American public. The idea that the U.S. Attorney General conspired to coverup a “botched sting” by well-meaning ATF agents that inadvertently but avoidably led to a Border Patrol Agent’s death is about “good” as it’s going to get. Too bad; it’s going to be a great show. The fact that the AG is even showing up at Issa’s hearing—instead of resigning in disgrace–guarantees spectacular political theater.
I’m sure White House spin doctors are hard at work figuring out a way to protect the Commander in Chief from Holder’s implosion—hoping like Hell that Eric doesn’t drop the big one. Yes, I informed the President of the United States about Operation Fast and Furious. Can you imagine? And imagination is where that one will stay.
The big question in my mind: will Congress be satisfied with Holder’s scalp or will they move on to expose the Obama administration’s collusion with Mexican drug cartels? If not, will the mainstream media pay attention when former Sinaloa cartel jefe and current U.S. prisoner Vicente Zambada-Niebla spills the beans about Uncle Sam’s assistance in the family business? Ominously for Obama, Zambada Niebla’s trial is now set for October.
Meanwhile, click here and bookmark the Committee’s website. They’ll be live-streaming Holder’s testimony. Smoking gun or not, it will either be a historical moment in the defense of the rule of law or just another brick in a stonewall erected by the President who promised transparency to a gullible, time-pressed public.